by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd
When Slater & Gordon lawyer Pieter Kruger publicly declared that he had engaged in conduct recently found by the Supreme Court of Victoria to be illegal, and challenged me to report him to Consumer Affairs Victoria, it was not simply a matter of one lawyer debating another. Rather, Mr. Kruger’s taunt was a challenge to Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Supreme Court of Victoria in the wake of a declaration by the Supreme Court that negotiating the sale of real estate on behalf of a client is not an ordinary function of an Australian Legal Practitioner. But is Slater & Gordon too big to challenge?
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
On 27 March, 2012 the matter of Dr Claire Noone, Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria v Mericka & Ors (The MERICKA Case) was decided in favour of Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV). A few days later, in a discussion I posted on the LinkedIn page of the Law Institute of Victoria Group about the court’s finding. I noted that the court had decided that, because my firm had promoted itself as being entitled to negotiate the sale of real estate on behalf of clients, it had held itself out to the public as being willing to engage in the “business” of real estate. This attracted a comment from lawyer Pieter Kruger.
Mr. Kruger’s comment was short and to the point, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…“.
Stung by the insensitivity and narrow-mindedness of a fellow legal practitioner, I checked Mr. Kruger’s LinkedIn profile, and discovered that he is a lawyer with the mega-firm Slater & Gordon, whose tag line is “No challenge too great”.
When I made the observation that he is a Slater & Gordon employee, Mr. Kruger was very quick to point out that his comments were his own and that they should not be regarded as comments made by his employer. This was duly noted, but the cat was well and truly out of the bag. However, Mr. Kruger did not stop there. He publicly declared that he had recently been engaged by a purchaser for the purpose of negotiating a real estate purchase and asked if I would report this to Consumer Affairs Victoria!